“What’s the Fourth of July?” my four-year-old asked me a couple summers ago. She struggled to remember why this particular holiday was distinct.
Her older sister quickly piped in, “It’s the day we have fireworks!”
Fun festivities such as firework displays, three-legged races, and eating watermelon are great, family-friendly ways to celebrate Independence Day. As parents, these activities provide a wonderful opportunity for us to step away from our daily responsibilities to spend dedicated quality time with our kids.
Yet, it’s also important that we as parents don’t stop here. It’s our job to also teach our kids why we celebrate July Fourth. We need to take the time to tell them – both young and old – about the bravery, sacrifice, and Christian principles that are at the heart of Independence Day.
This Fourth of July, inspire patriotism in your kids with these activities.
Engage in good stories.
If your kids are anything like mine, they love a good story. As Independence Day approaches, introduce your kids to compelling, edge-of-your-seat narratives that focus on why and how our country was founded. These can take the form of books, television shows, audio dramas, or even music, depending on the age of your kids.
Elementary-aged kids may enjoy:
- The animated series Liberty’s Kids. This 40-episode show focuses on the American Revolution. It’s not written specifically from a Christian worldview, so you’ll want to watch with your kids and discuss as you go.
Both elementary-aged and tweens may like:
- The Adventures in Odyssey’s audio drama album “For God and Country” from Focus on the Family. Some of the episodes focus on George Washington, Paul Revere, the Revolutionary War, and how the National Anthem was written.
- The “Heroes of History”book series. This series includes books on Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Johns Adams, and William Penn.
Tweens and teens may love:
- Kirk Cameron’s film “Monumental“, This fascinating documentary follows Cameron as he journeys to discover and learn about the places, people, and principles that shaped America.
- The American History DVD series from Drive Thru History. Host Dave Stotts is funny and entertaining as he visits important historical locations related to the founding of our country.
- The Broadway musical cast recording of “Hamilton” (with parental guidance). This also isn’t written from a Christian worldview and there are sections of this theatrical album that are explicit, so you’ll need to determine whether you think it is appropriate for your kids and your family. It does fantastic job of helping older kids understand that our country was founded by fallible men who were willing to risk their lives and their comforts in the name of independence. It reminds teens that any of us can make a difference.
Visit a national cemetery.
We have a national cemetery located about 25 minutes from our house. In past years, we’ve visited it exclusively on Memorial Day. The Fourth of July, though, is another ideal date to stop there as a family. If you live close to one, add it to your holiday’s activities.
Visiting a national cemetery on our country’s independence day reminds your kids that the fight for freedom isn’t confined to the American Revolution and our founding fathers. Seeing the names of those who’ve fought for generations since is a profound way to teach them the continued price of liberty.
As you respectfully explore the cemetery, chat with your kids about the freedoms they currently enjoy. Talk about how these brave men and women have helped preserve these liberties by sacrificing their lives.
Throw a birthday party.
Most kids love birthday parties. On the Fourth of July, transform your family or neighborhood cookout into a celebration of our country turning another year older. Here are a few ideas:
- Buy American-themed budget-friendly decorations and party favors at your local dollar store. Use it as an opportunity to discuss the meaning of the stars and stripes and the ideals that went into founding our country.
- Help your kids make patriotic cupcakes or a cake. If you have older kids, put them in charge of the baking process.
- Buy a long roll of paper and encourage your family and guests to make a “longest birthday banner” ever. On it, write “Happy Birthday, America!” and draw pictures of the events and people that were instrumental in our country’s birth.
- Plan a few American-inspired games. Reader’s Digest offers a list of twenty, which includes a patriotic scavenger hunt, an Independence Day costume contest, and an American History competition.
This Fourth of July, help your kids view the holiday with new eyes by teaching them the why and how behind the day. With a little bit of planned effort, you can inspire a patriotic spirit in them!